Dukha people

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For the Pali word, see Dukkha.
Духалар / Тухалар
Siedlungsgebiete der Tiva und Duva.PNG
Today's settlement areas of the Tyva in Russia and the Dukha in neighbouring Mongolia.
Total population
282 (2010)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Dukhan, Mongolian
Related ethnic groups
Tuvans, Tofalar, Soyots, several other Turkic peoples, Mongols

The Dukha, Dukhans[2] or Duhalar (Mongolian: Цаатан, Tsaatan) are a small Tuvan (Tozhu Tuvans) Turkic community of reindeer herders living in northern Khövsgöl Aimag of Mongolia.

The North Taiga band was organized under the Qing Dynasty from 1755-1912 as part of Toja or Uriyankhai banner. With Mongolian independence in 1911, the banner became part of independent Tuva, which was soon annexed by the Russians in 1944, leaving only North Taiga band on the Mongolian side of the frontier. The South Taiga group of the Dukhans and other Uriankhais fled over the frontier from Tuva to avoid conscription in the 1930s. At first, the Mongolian government repeatedly deported them back to Tuva. In 1956 the government finally gave them Mongolian citizenship and resettled them at Tsagaan Nuur Lake on the Shishigt River.

Only 44 Dukha families remain, totaling somewhere between 200 and 400 people. They ride, breed, milk, and live off of reindeer, though the reindeer population has dropped to approximately 600 since the 1970s, when it was an estimated 2,000. Since the democratization of Mongolia, no governmental programs have been in place to replenish reindeer herds with animals from Siberia, direly endangering the Dukha way of life. Much of the Dukha income today comes from tourists who pay to buy their crafts and to ride their domesticated reindeer. The name "tsaatan" means "reindeer herder" as in "tsaa bug" (reindeer).

A news report in 2009 put the Tsaatan population at 220.[3]


Main article: Dukha language

Dukhan language (SIL International dkh[4]), an endangered Turkic variety spoken by approximately five hundred people in the Tsagaan-Nuur county of the Khövsgöl region of northern Mongolia. Dukhan belongs to the Taiga subgroup of Sayan Turkic (Tuvan, Tofa).[2]


  1. ^ Хүн Ам, Орон Сууцны 2010 Оны Улсын Тооллогын Үр Дүн
  2. ^ a b Elisabetta Ragagnin (2011), Dukhan, a Turkic Variety of Northern Mongolia, Description and Analysis, Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden
  3. ^ TITV news report of 23 October 2009: Tsaan population dwindles. Access date 2012-12-21.
  4. ^ http://www.sil.org/iso639-3/cr_files/2011-057_dkh.pdf

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